By on January 25, 2010

Volkswagen has announced [via Autoblog] that “in response to requests by many customers,” the Passat CC will now be available with seating for three in the back seat. The lesson: even the people who spend more money for a more-fashionable but less-practical version of a mass-market car want that extra seatbelt just in case. Which begs the question…

What’s going to happen to poor baby Volt? Thanks to a fat battery running down the middle of the car, it’s buckets-only in the back. And unlike VW’s CC, the Volt won’t be fixable with some extra upholstery, a headrest and a seatbelt. Sure, it won’t matter for the hardcore early adopters, but for the folks who think the Volt can replace their family sedan, this seems likely to be an issue.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

29 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: Four’s Company Edition...”


  • avatar
    Mr. Sparky

    Chevy Brand Manager:

    “Fortunately, Toyota Prius owners are already accustomed to the lack of a middle rear seat. See here in the Prius brochure… Uh, wait a minute… Well shit, they have a [email protected]!*ing middle seat. I’m not telling Ed about this one… (Hummm… I wonder if Ford is hiring?).”

    GM themselves tried this back in the late 80’s with a 2+2 option on the Buick Regal coupe… I think they sold, like six. If coupe buyers of all people don’t like 2+2, your average treehugging family man(or gal) isn’t going to like it either.

  • avatar
    carguy

    I’m not so sure this is much of a fix – it doesn’t look very comfortable.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      It doesn’t have to be comfortable. Here’s my angle. I drive a compact (Focus) and have 2 kids. We take many little trips around town with the whole family with 4/5 of the seating occupied. For these trips we would be quite content to have a 4 seat vehicle.

      Then, once in a while, we choose to bring one of the kids’ friends along – and voila! Our fifth seat becomes useful. Even if it were as lumpy as the CCs rear seat appears to be, I don’t give a damn because a 12 year old kid sitting there for 20 minutes isn’t likely to suffer a whole lot.

      When I consider my next vehicle, I have already disqualified the MINI and Volvo C30 because they lack a fifth seat. And the Volt -as if I have $40k for a pseudo-electric Cruze anyway.

  • avatar
    ash78

    Marketing: “Due to customer demand, we are adding an additional seat to the back of the Passat CC.”

    Engineering: “But why wouldn’t someone just buy a regular Passat for less money?”

    Marketing: “In my new plan to answer all questions with questions, ‘Why don’t you go f*ck yourself?’ Now, let’s talk about the new 5-seat Scirocco…”

  • avatar
    CyCarConsulting

    It’s simple, don’t have any kids. That’s why we are all going to be driving electric cars, on over conjested freeways.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    isn’ it larger than the Passat?

    • 0 avatar
      ash78

      Smaller, technically (same car, less space). In the rest of the world, I think they’re still using the Passat CC name. The US dropped the “passat” from the name almost immediately, lest buyers realize they’re paying extra for a glorified trimline.

      Hey, it’s their money. I’m just speaking practically and adding color to why I’m no longer in the marketing biz.

  • avatar
    Stu Sidoti

    I don’t think VW actually expects anyone to actually sit there-it must be a marketing ploy to call the Passat CC a 5-pass for some reason.
    See that armrest in the seatback? That armrest panel is a very thinly wrapped large piece of very hard plastic. The thin foam padding is only about 5mm with 2mm of vinyl laminated to it-I’ve seen these interiors torn down for benchmarking purposes. The ride comfort, should someone actually attempt to sit in the center occupant position, will be very painful-no one would sit there for more than a few minutes unless they really like the torture. Plus VW has located the nearly useless center occupant buckle right above the OB passengers IB kidney-thanks, that’ll feel good.
    As for the Volt’s lack of a center occupant seating position, I agree that a lot of buyers looking to use this car in regular passenger mode will look elsewhere for a true 5-passenger choice. However, since it is only available in such a small area, it is not really a mass-market car anyway-quite frankly now I don’t know who GM expects to buy the Volt or in what kind of sales numbers that they project. The closer the vehicle gets to launch, the murkier it’s mission seems to be becoming.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    Somebody puhleeze loan VW NA a quarter so they can buy a clue.

  • avatar
    dswilly

    That whole CC thing is weird branding

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The middle position in any compact car is a problematic space: there’s not enough length for a rear-facing carseat to work there, and there’s often not enough width to accommodate three abreast once your passengers are out of said rear-facing seat.

    I don’t think it will hamper the Volt, per se. People are going to buy, or not, the car on the basis of it’s strengths and weaknesses vis a vis it’s core purpose—which is not to haul five people for any length of time.

  • avatar
    Autojunkie

    Why are you so hell-bent on wanting the Volt to fail? I know I should ask this about GM overall. And Chrysler to, while I’m at it?

  • avatar
    Ernie

    The center seat was a place for my son before he was big enough for a Regent. That thing’s as big as my car’s bucket.

    Everyone asked me why I insisted on mounting him center rather than to the side; it *was* wasted space. The way I see it, the safest place for a kid during a side crash is the OTHER side of the car . . . which side is the accident going to happen on?

    Now it’s simple: behind the wife, because he can’t fit behind me, even in the SUV.

  • avatar
    criminalenterprise

    Between the CC, the Tiguan and the Routan I think VW is trying way too hard to find the margins between segments.

    Or maybe they’re just really bored and no one thought to do something more constructive like launch an F1 team.

  • avatar
    dlfcohn

    Yep, I nearly cried when I saw the Volt on Jay Leno’s Garage Show.

    We have three kids so any vehicle we own has to be able to legally and safely seat five. Even if it is only in an emergency (say the van is in the shop) and even if the kids are a bit uncomfortable back there for a short trip or two.

    Given the average family in both the US and Canada has 2.something kids, I doubt our family is alone in only buying vehicles with five or more seats.

    Beyond my own anecdote and the stories noted here from Volkswagen and a long ago Buick. There might be another way to study this. I believe that the last generation Nissan Maxima use to be available as an ordinary five- seater and as a more sporty four-seater. Does anyone know how the relative sales volumes broke down?

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    You know, right up until this post I didn’t realize the Volt was a hatchback. I’m actually more amenable to it now.

    I’m also pissed that it wasn’t released as the Saab 9-E (or whatever), but hey..

  • avatar
    Brian E

    I don’t think I’ve ever had three people in the back of my TSX. I’d be quite amenable to a 2+2; in fact I might get a two-door for my next car anyway.

    Given how cramped these cars in the back, who’s going back there but an occasional kid anyway? If you don’t have kids, this seems like a non-issue.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Heres a novel concept: have less kids. I see little reason why people in this crazy world we live in would want more than 2 or 3 kids anyway. Just think if everybody would start using there heads and having one or two less children how less congested the highways would be, less box stores needing to be built, less new homes and trailers, less food waste, less taxes to care for the unemployed, less oil consumption and natural and man made resources etc. This way people could concentrate more on the few kids they have and bring them up in a proper fashion, the right way. And if you feel the need to have 6 kids then go by a minivan or large Sport Ute and watch you wallet shrink.
    On another note why drag the Volt in on this? It is not even in the same class as the VW CC which should never in the first place have only offered 4 passenger seating for such a large car. Funny how we never hear how the batteries in the trunk of the Camry hybrid take up 60% of it’s useful trunk space or that the Prius is too narrow to fit 3 adults in the back seat without squeezing them like sardeens or that the odd ball split rear window is next to impossible to see out of.

  • avatar
    A is A

    The Volt has only four seats?.

    WTF??????????????????????????. I have had a very hard time digesting the fact that someone was boneheaded enough to give the green light to this car being a four seater.

    IMHO a car like this is unsealable with only four seats. It is a DEAL BREAKER for a lot of people. Only a handful of cars have four seats, most of them for a very good reason (liliputian size).

    So the Volt is going to have the same seating capacity than the diminutive Toyota iQ?. OMG.

    Someone at American Leyland should force the team developing the Volt to add a last minute add-on fifth seat+seat belt+headrest (albeit with a big hump between the feet) for an athletic, agile and small fifth passenger (probably a teenager).

  • avatar
    Steven02

    Honestly, I don’t think seating for 4 or 5 will make or break the Volt. There are many other things on the list that will make it or break it before we get to 4 or 5 seats. The CC is a big car. Big cars should have 5 seats. I guess this is the daily shot at the Volt for today.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Yep, you’re right. Daily swipe at the Volt, nothing new.

      That said, some very swoopily styled cars have a surprising amount of head and leg room in the back seats. My Malibu Maxx (not so swoopy) and my G6 (swoopier) both have of room for three adults in the back, providing they’re not 350 lbs. apiece. I’ve had 5 adults (and I mean mature, typically overweight adults) in both of those cars and never had an issue in terms of comfort. Just how much space do we really need? It’s no wonder minivans are rolling contradictions.

      Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s when my children were infants, the last thing I wanted was a minivan. I didn’t want to get further upside down on car payments, especially. I managed to avoid it with a Dodge Lancer Turbo, which was a (nearly) midsized 5 door hatchback. We could fit two car seats in the back of the car, while any other children could fit with their booster chair, all of which we thought were huge. It was tight, but it beat getting a minivan. (although I had a minivan relative anyway, ironic, no?)

  • avatar
    ktm

    Um, folks, the Honda Element only has four seats. Seriously. While the rear seats are right next to each other and they look like a bench seat, they only, in fact, seat two. The center part has hard plastic cup holders for each seat and there are only two seat belts.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Perhaps TTAC needs a new category for their articles, since W3TP seens to not be a good fit for this article.

    How about Picking of Nits? (PoN) MQOWB (Mass Quantities of Why Bother?)

    Here’s today’s memo: Unlike the 1990’s or the Aught’s, all cars can’t be ALL things to ALL people….

    People can’t buy a 5 seat Cruze/Volt? Heavens to Betsy, whatever will we do?

    Sacrifices had to be made to get the car to market. Happens all the time. You don’t get a car to market as light as possible without making hundreds of tough decisions, each to save an ounce at a time.

    If they HAD put a fifth-seat capability in there, you would have ragged on them for wasting the weight and making the 2 outboard buckets too uncomfortable.

    No car made today is without compromises. Time to deal with it and treat it as an adult would. You know, whining about it, and judging a car’s GESTALT….

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    Expecting Germans to know about families with more than one child, is like expecting Germans to know about donuts, bagels, turkey, oatmeal or Doritos.

    They just don’t get it.

    Their relationship to their autos is just different from ours. Even for VW. We’ve witnessed some real moments of “WTF?” from VW since we discovered their adorable Beetles fifty years ago. Sometimes the Germans are just as guilty as any other culture of simply not listening. Ask an Eastern German how well their Western brothers and sisters listened to them twenty years ago, and you’ll better appreciate the challenges even sincere people face.

    This is just another one of those moments, and the Germans have been caught not listening or understanding their target market. The CC’s center armrest with a seat belt idea isn’t going to reach these markets. Their design will not accommodate three child car seats – it is too narrow. Each child car seat requires as much width as an adult. Children are legally required to be seated like this until they are either eight years of age, or over eighty pounds.

    What they need to know is that America is in the middle of another baby boom. Larger than the famous one sixty years ago. Not in Europe. In the USA. Probably not in Manhattan, or Miami Beach, or in the trendy downtown cities German transplants love to live. But in Suburbia, Exurbia, and in the heartland of the US. People are makin’ babies!

    So, if VW and other delightful German auto manufacturers wish to find sales success with the average American family, the Germans will need to understand that Americans have not forgotten the biological purpose of marriage and sex. After all, when you see how many people are being born in Germany, and how many people are dying in Germany – then you will recognize that German auto manufacturers better start listening and designing cars for those cultures that plan to survive beyond the next century. Unlike their own home market.

    Regarding the Volt – GM doesn’t know what it is doing. No surprises there, right?

    • 0 avatar
      mikedt

      Maybe there’s such a thing as catering to your TARGET market. If you need 3 child safety seats in your vehicle, odds are you’re looking at a minivan or an SUV. (a rear facing child seat just fit in our Honda minivan without making the front passenger feel like a sardine) You’re not going to attempt to squeeze 3 kid seats into a sedan. Because even if you could, odds are the rest of the vehicle isn’t going to be able to haul all the family related crap needed for a vacation.

      Not everybody needs that kind of room. Those people buy smaller cars. People who need lots of room buy bigger cars. Different markets, different cars. I doubt VW is loosing sales because 3 car seats can’t fit in the back of a CC. If anything, they’re losing sales because Consumer Reports ranks VW reliability lower than a Camry.

  • avatar

    I had 3 rear occupants when I took people to lunch, which was reasonably frequently when I worked in an office, maybe every 2 weeks. And another one time when I took kids to a birthday party. Of these I think having 2+2 would be ok for office workers, as there’s always someone willing to take the people. One time my manager drove us in Cherokee, and the middle seat occupant was unable to buckle in (probably a jammed inertial spool). He said, “ok, Fay, just don’t crash” and we were off.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    Now if only the Passat CC had sufficient headroom for one in the back seat. Or the front. That plunging roofline is an immoveable wall that will keep me from buying another VW for many years to come, especially since the new US Jetta sports the same claustrophobic gangsta profile. So long, VW, it’s been fun.

    Ernie has it right, though. Every car likes this needs a belt to secure a child seat in the center position. That’s the safest place in the car. Besides, the little passenger has a better view of sights ahead from the middle. Easier to reach back there and wipe away the snot, too.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    Why not four seats? Did anyone complain when stupid consoles chewed up a spot for a passenger[and knee room as well?] Or bucket seats became the standard for giving the driver that “cockpit” feel ? You know to indulge all those ‘enthusiast’ fantasies while creeping along in traffic ? And 4 seaters are sportier than 5 seaters, all my friends say so.

    I am being sarcastic: any car that large should at least offer seating for 5. Even the unloved K Car advertised seating for six.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • sayahh: I don’t like how Mitsu and Chevy reused the Eclipse and Trailblazer names, respectively. I, however,...
  • sayahh: So are you in the “the modern Dodge Charger doesn’t have two-doors like the General Lee, so it...
  • Lou_BC: That is very true. People complain about lost jobs but then trundle off to Walmart for cheap chinesium and a...
  • Lou_BC: @Aurtur – yup. Bring in the “temps”. Saputo dairy was busted for bringing in Mexicans and...
  • Lou_BC: (Now)Billionaire Jimmy Pattison when he owned a Chevy dealership would fire the lowest selling salesman every...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber